After six months in power, Gambian president speaks to Anadolu Agency
Gambia’s new president Adama Barrow has told Anadolu Agency that his government will not hesitate to seek the extradition of the country’s former autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh, former military ruler who governed the small nation with an iron fist from 1994 to 2016, has been accused by right groups and opponents of widespread killings and torture during his reign.
“Every atrocity and human rights abuse in the past 22 years will be investigated and people who are responsible will be prosecuted. We will not compromise that without any doubt,” Barrow said in an interview with Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
About two months ago, Gambia’s High Court issued an arrest warrant for over a dozen former soldiers believed to be part of Jammeh’s hit squad but their extradition from Guinea Bissau and Mauritania, where they are reportedly based, has not yet been secured.
“We will not hesitate to do that [seek Jammeh’s extradition] but we will have to wait for the due process,” he said. “We have to get the facts first. That is why getting those people [soldiers] back in this country will help in that process.
“That is why we are in contact with neighboring countries so that we can get those people and have firsthand information.”
Despite promises for justice after the fall of Jammeh, Barrow’s administration is yet to secure any successful prosecution.
Desire for justice
Currently, nine former intelligence officers who served Jammeh are being tried for the alleged killing of an opposition activist, Solo Sandeng who died while in jail in April 2016.
There has been some criticism targeting the Justice Ministry due its alleged incapacity to deal with past crimes,
Barrow said it was a desire for justice that led to the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the assets and activities of Jammeh and his associates about a week ago.
The Gambian leader also downplayed the security challenges of the small nation despite the presence of foreign troops and the reported presnce of active Jammeh loyalists in the army.
About a month ago, a leaked security brief from the Senegalese military indicated that Gambia was facing a security threat from former Jammeh allies based out of the country and within.
About a week ago, Gambian army issued a press release announcing the arrest of four soldiers who were reportedly engaged in mutinous acts.
“These [cases] are in the minority and after 22 years of dictatorship we expect such things, pockets of resistance, but we are working very much to make sure the security situation is controlled. I am absolutely sure of the loyalty of the Gambia Armed Forces,” he said.
Barrow said his administration was under the pressure of a population that was expecting so much within a short period of time.
“We have done the initial restructuring and with the help from outside in the form of budget support, we are now stabilizing the economy,” Barrow said.
Jammeh’s reign came to an end in January when he was forced to leave due to the threat of military intervention from regional states. He had initially accepted electoral defeat in December 2016 but then backtracked and said he would contest Adama Barrow’s victory.